How My Hero Academia's Creator Crafts All Of Those Unique Heroes

"My Hero Academia" has tapped into the superhero zeitgeist in a way that few other anime have managed to. Based on the hit manga by Kōhei Horikoshi, the series takes place in a complex superhuman society filled with dozens of memorable heroes and villains who are constantly clashing in inventive, over-the-top battles.

Though Horikoshi grew up in Japan, the creator was always a fan of western comics and superhero films (via CBR). This fervor helped inspire him to imagine the world of "My Hero Academia," a world where literally anyone can be a hero. It's an obvious power fantasy, which makes it easy to understand why anime fans have cottoned to the series in the way that they have.

With such a massive, diverse cast of characters, "My Hero Academia" fans are constantly debating which hero or villain is their favorite (via Twitter). With that in mind, viewers might find themselves wondering how Horikoshi comes up with so many unique designs and power sets for all of these characters.

Horikoshi finds inspiration in some unique places

Kōhei Horikoshi sat down with Anime News Network to discuss "My Hero Academia" and explained some of the surprising ways that he comes up with the designs of his characters. "It's momentum. I have these light bulb moments — I don't spend hours and hours thinking about it. I just get inspired," said Horikoshi. "So, for example, I'll be at the convenience store, and I'll see a roll of clear tape, and I'll think, 'hmm, maybe there's a face in here somewhere.' And it'll just happen that way."

It's true that "My Hero Academia" has some of the most inventive character designs around, but who would have thought that they might be inspired by something as mundane and innocuous as a roll of tape? It would seem that inspiration truly can come from just about anywhere.

When asked whether he preferred designing male characters or female characters, though, Horikoshi offered a fairly nuanced answer. "I don't really think about it that way. First and foremost, I care about their personalities," Horikoshi explained. "The storytelling part — when I'm actually drawing it, illustrating the female characters is more fun." Still, even though Horikoshi is the designer and creator behind so many fantastical characters, even he's surprised by which ones sometimes emerge as fan favorites in "My Hero Academia."

Horikoshi is surprised that fans like Bakugo so much

The mangaka went on to tell Anime News Network about some of the characters whose popularity has genuinely surprised him, and one clear candidate popped up immediately. "Bakugo has been a bit of a surprise. I assumed everyone would hate him, but it's been the opposite," Kōhei Horikoshi said. "In the character questionnaires we do, Bakugo comes in No. 1 most popular."

The popularity of Bakugo (Nobuhiko Okamoto/Clifford Chapin) is definitely a bit of a shocker. The character spends much of the series bullying lead character Deku (Daiki Yamashita/Justin Briner), and even as he warms up a bit over the course of the series, Bakugo's explosive temper and demeaning insults are never far behind him.

Still, there's an even more fringe character whose popularity amazed Horikoshi. When asked about Deku's mom, Inko (Aya Kawakami/Jessica Cavanagh), the "My Hero Academia" creator exclaimed: "That was also a surprise to me!" It is impressive that in a world filled with so many amazing characters who are capable of such incredible feats, fans might find themselves smitten with Deku's forever-doting mother of all people.